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The Winchester Tradition / Malcolm Archer, Winchester College Chapel Choir


Release Date: 04/12/2011 
Label:  Regent   Catalog #: 331  
Composer:  Samuel Sebastian WesleyThomas WeelkesGeorge DysonMalcolm Archer,   ... 
Performer:  Paul Provost
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A very engaging disc, full of interesting and varied music, well performed.

Winchester College was founded in 1394 and can trace its organists back to the 1540s. All of the composers represented on this disc have a direct connection with the College. Clearly it is self-recommending to those fortunate enough to have been educated there, but perhaps more relevant to the rest of us is that it is a very interesting and satisfying collection of music performed with skill, musicality and enthusiasm.
 
Any disc which starts with S.S. Wesley’s wonderful “Ascribe unto the Lord” gives itself a big advantage as this is a large-scale, varied and imaginative work which allows a choir and organist to show off all
Read more their abilities. Comparing this to performances by cathedral choirs there is perhaps occasionally some lack of power and depth of tone amongst the tenors and basses, unsurprising in what is in effect a school choir, but the ear soon gets used to their sound which is well controlled and very musical in its phrasing and which avoids the loose vibrato which can affect older singers. One of its most attractive features is the bright sound of the choir, especially the trebles, and above all the sense of direction in their phrasing. There is never any sense of merely revelling in the beauty of sound - although there is such beauty, in particular in items like the other Wesley item, the justly often recorded “Thou wilt keep him”.
 
Wesley’s time in Winchester was troubled, as it was in most of the cathedrals and churches in which he was employed. He was appointed as organist to the cathedral and only took on the additional task of organist at the College with reluctance. Sir George Dyson on the other hand showed great enthusiasm for it. The Evening Service in C minor, often sung in D minor, is sung here as originally intended with the Magnificat taken by the tenors and basses and the Nunc Dimittis by the trebles, or Quiristers as they are known at Winchester. Like the Morning Service in D also included here it is essentially the kind of work for which the term “muscular Christianity” seems appropriate. Nonetheless sung and played like this both works go beyond their liturgical purpose and give real musical pleasure. I got even more pleasure from the Missa Omnes Sacri by Malcolm Archer, the current Director of Chapel Music and conductor on this disc. The composer acknowledges the influence of the great Masses of Widor and Vierne, and the opening of the Kyrie does indeed instantly remind the listener of those great works. It nonetheless has a distinctive character of its own and is well worth hearing, as is his new setting of the school song “Domum, dulce domum” (Home, sweet home) which has nothing to do with Bishop’s song but may apparently relate to a time when the school was exiled from Winchester during an outbreak of plague. Malcolm Archer sets it to a catchy tune which should meet his aim of providing something more memorable than the tune previously used.
 
This is a very engaging disc, full of interesting and varied music, well performed, with good booklet notes and texts with English translations where necessary. The choir has apparently been in existence for over 600 years but it is hard to imagine that they have often surpassed their current standard. I hope that they will continue to explore their fascinating musical history.
 
-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International 
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Works on This Recording

1.
Ascribe unto the Lord by Samuel Sebastian Wesley
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1852; England 
2.
Hosanna to the Son of David by Thomas Weelkes
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
Period: Renaissance 
Written: England 
3.
Songs (3) of Praise: Lauds by George Dyson
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1935; England 
4.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace by Samuel Sebastian Wesley
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1850; England 
5.
Missa Omnes Sancti by Malcolm Archer
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
6.
O Jesu, King most wonderful by Jeremiah Clarke
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
7.
I sing of a maiden by Raymond Humphrey
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
8.
A heart alone by William Cole
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
9.
Jubilate Deo by Paul Provost
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
10.
Domum, dulce domum by Malcolm Archer
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
11.
Evening Service in C minor: Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by George Dyson
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
12.
Morning Service in D major: Jubilate by George Dyson
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir
13.
Benedictus by George Dyson
Performer:  Paul Provost (Organ)
Conductor:  Malcolm Archer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Winchester College Chapel Choir

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